Can-Am Ryker review
Riding a motorcycle is an experience every motoring enthusiast must do before they die.
It is the closest - and purest - connection you can get between man, machine and the road, delivering a sense of thrill and exposing you directly to the elements like nothing else. Not even a convertible Ferrari or Lamborghini.
Motorcycling’s biggest hinderance is, for most people at least, that it also brings an inherent level of danger, with serious consequences from even the smallest of mistakes.
So, for those that are either inexperienced or simply want something a little safer than a conventional two-wheeled motorcycle, there is an alternative. Enter the Can-Am Ryker.
It’s a three-wheeled trike that looks as cool as any motorcycle, performs much like a motorcycle and provides the same open-air experience of a motorcycle, yet is easier and safer to ride than a conventional two-wheeled machine.
The Ryker is the newest model developed by Canadian-based Cam-Am, which is part of the BRP group that also produces Sea-Doo jet skis, Ski-Doo snowmobiles and Envirude outboard marine engines. It is the baby brother of the similarly three-wheeled Spyder that has been on-sale since 2007, but designed for a more youthful demographic with a more affordable price tag, stockier looks and smaller engines, including a learner-approved version for the first time.
There are, essentially, two different variants available - the standard Ryker and the Ryker Rally, which is designed to handle light-duty gravel roads for adventure seekers. The road-biased model is offered with the choice of a LAMS (learner-approved) 600cc twin-cylinder engine that produces 37kW and 50Nm or a more potent 61kW/79Nm 900cc three-cylinder, whereas the Rally is only available with the larger motor.
The entry-level model costs from $14,899 (plus on-roads), which is nearly as expensive as Australia’s most affordable new car and nearly double that of most LAMS-approved motorcycles, while the 900cc Ryker costs from $17,299 (plus on-roads) and the Ryker Rally costs from $18,999 (plus on-roads).
All three feature the same basic set-up, with a single seat riding position, adjustable foot pegs and handlebars, a digital dash, halogen headlights, LED driving lights on each fender and 16-inch alloy wheels with 145/60 series tyres on the front and a wider 205/45 tyre at the back.
Apart from the engines, there is no mechanical difference between the 600cc and 900cc versions as each is built around a rigid alloy frame with a race-style dual-wishbone front suspension set-up with coil-over dampers, a mono shock rear with adjustable pre-load and a stepless CVT automatic transmission with a maintenance-free driveshaft propelling the rear wheel. There’s disc brakes on all three wheels, with the system linked together through a single pedal on the right-side foot peg, and featuring both anti-skid brakes and stability control.
The Ryker Rally has a stronger frame, a bash-plate under the chin to protect the motor, fully-adjustable KYB coil-overs that can be raised for an extra inch of ground clearance, a longer rear structure that allows for a pillion seat or storage box to be fitted, hand guards, and unique alloy wheels wrapped in dual-purpose tyres.
On top of all that, owners can customise the Ryker’s appearance through interchangeable coloured plastic panels, different alloy wheel designs and a myriad of accessories, which Can-Am claims provides more than 75,000 individual permutations.
So what’s it like to ride? To find out, we ventured to the Eastern Creek go-kart circuit in Western Sydney to go for a quick spin.
Firstly, the Ryker looks like an insect from another planet when you see it for the first time; it’s stocky stance is matched by its hoovering front intake and bug-eyed centre section complete with handlebars that appear as though they’re a stubby set of antennae. You can almost imagine this kind of machine being popular among teenage Martians, in much the same way Italian kids terrorise the streets of Milan, Rome and Bologna.
Whether it’s cool or not is purely subjective, but there’s no denying it’s a head turner.
Getting on is easy thanks to its ultra-low seat, and finding a suitable riding position is almost as convenient; lift up each foot peg and move them forward or back to suit, and lock them in by pushing them into place; then lift-up a latch in the middle of the handlebars to slide them forward or back across a three-inch plane.
Starting the engine is also a simple task; flick the kill switch down, hold the brake lever, twist the hand grip forward to acknowledge, then hit the starter button and the engine barks into life with a chubby rumble. Then you’re off.
With just basic controls - twist the throttle to accelerate and step on the brake pedal to stop - riding a Ryker is much less complicated than a normal motorcycle, which will be appealing to inexperienced riders. And it’s - obviously - much more stable in that it’s three-wheel configuration means it can’t topple over.
But it does require a different riding technique. Much like a Jet Ski, you have to turn the handlebars in the direction you want to travel and strain against the lateral forces to lean into the corner, whereas on a motorcycle you counter steer and shift your body weight with the angle of the bike through the corners.
With two relatively wide tyres out the front, it has plenty of grip but is also quite heavy to steer around tight and confined spaces. At higher speeds, the Ryker is more relaxed through sweeping bends, making it a great machine to escape the city for a weekend blast into the mountains or a lazy long-distance cruise into the country.
In any environment, inexperienced riders will appreciate the early intervention of its traction and stability control systems. While it can be quite savage when arresting the front wheels from sliding, jamming on the brakes and forcing the front-end to skip wide - which, in itself, could be alarming for riders the first time they experience it - it feels as though it is as safe as houses.
And it’s not scary fast either. Both the 600cc twin and 900cc are tuned more for low-end drivability than high-revving horsepower, which, when linked to the CVT transmission, makes it easy to get moving and also maintain a steady speed. It even has a reverse gear to make manoeuvring in and out of parking spots simple.
In the end, the Can-Am Ryker is a cool toy for those that want the experience of a motorcycle but feel a little too vulnerable on two wheels. It’s not a cheap one though, but it is simple and comfortable to ride and easy to maintain. Really, there is nothing else like it.
Can-Am Ryker Price and Specifications
Price: From $14,899 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 600cc twin-cylinder / 900cc three-cylinder petrol
Power: 37kW at 7300rpm / 61kW at 8000rpm
Torque: 50Nm at 6000rpm / 80Nm at 5500rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic, RWD
Fuel use: NA